If you don't count it, it doesn't count.
Written by Ned Barrett on March 1st 2018.
You’ve heard plenty of people say, “I never see anyone there,” or “It’s crowded every time I pass by.” “Anecdata” may feel like an assessment, but it’s important to gather real counts for grant requests and trail maintenance and programming plans, part of the reason we install infra-red counters on our trails. We can see where users enter the system, and track which segments see greater or lesser use. We can start to look at routes to get to the trail and ways to improve safety there.
In the past few months, we have added more counters to our system. Thanks to the good folks at the Spartanburg Area Transportation Study, we will add four new counters to trails each year. Some will go on new trails, some on existing ones.
In addition to new counters, we have added the Town of Lyman and Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce’s Downtown Development Partnership (DDP) to those of us sharing web space for reporting, analyzing and sharing counter data. We share the cost of the website, and the collection of those interested in walkability and promoting active lifestyles makes for a robust partnership with a variety of interests.
According to Kimberly Bush, an analyst with the DDP, “Gathering clean data is one of the top priorities for the DDP. In order to attract the talent and the businesses we seek, we have to be data-driven through our strategy. With the implementation of the pedestrian counters, we are able to visualize, through trends, what is attracting the consumer to walk in Downtown Spartanburg…The data from the pedestrian counters are a core figure for informational purposes within most RFPs we receive that allow us to attract the businesses and services we need in downtown.”
This spring we’ll add six new counters to our system including one at the Railyard Park on the MBF Rail Trail, one at the Butterfly Creek Greenway, and one at Glendale Shoals. There are a couple of new trail segments coming this spring and summer where we’ll install the remaining counters. We post the trail data on our website, active-living.org/trail-counts.